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James Joyce (1882-1941). James Joyce: Introduction. James Joyce is one of the most innovative novelists of the 20 th century and one of the great masters of stream of consciousness writing. James Joyce: Biography. Irish novelist and poet

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James Joyce


James Joyce: Introduction

  • James Joyce is one of the most innovative novelists of the 20th century and one of the great masters of stream of consciousness writing.

James Joyce: Biography

Irish novelist and poet

Born in 1882 in Dublin, the son of a poverty-stricken civil servant

In 1898, studied at Dublin’s University College

and graduated in 1902

Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, he broke with the church while he was in college

  • 1904 – left Dublin with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid whom he eventually married

  • They and their two children lived in Trieste, Italy, in Paris, and in Zürich, Switzerland

  • Joyce supported his family by woring as a language instructor and by gifts from patrons

  • After 20 years in Paris, early in World War II, when the Germans invaded France, Joyce moved to Zürich, where he died on January 13, 1941

James Joyce’s first major work was Dubliners, a collection of fifteen short stories dealing successively with events of childhood, youth and adulthood. As the title indicated, Joyce made Ireland the focus of his stories.

James Joyce’s most famous work: Dubliners

All of the short stories are set in Dublin, Ireland.

Many focus on the themes of death, disease, and paralysis.

Many of the short stories are interconnected by symbols and moods.

The stories are not as bleak as their themes suggest, though.

Many explore the subtleties of experiences that are common to all.

  • Dubliners is about people’s spiritual growth more than anything else.

  • All of the characters in the stories struggle, in one way or another, with morality, personal frustrations, or restless desires.

  • They are ordinary people involved in various minor, yet meaningful, events in everyday life.

  • Often, these characters are on the brink of discovering something, such as loss, shame, failure, or death .

  • These stories contain no melodramatic conflict.

  • Instead, the stories present those quiet moments in the characters’ lives when they come to a sudden realization of the meaning of their existence (an epiphany).

  • In Dubliners, James Joyce made use of epiphany to show complex emotions.

  • At the end of the stories, the heroes suddenly understood their predicament.

  • It is then that the heroes of the stories realize the essence (real meaning) of life.


"Araby'' is one of fifteen short stories that together make up James Joyce's collection, Dubliners.

It is the last story of the first set, and is told from the perspective of a boy just on the verge of adolescence.

The story takes its title from a real festival which came to Dublin in 1894, when Joyce was twelve years old.

“Araby”is a story about a boy who wants to buy something for the girl he secretly has a crush on. He looks forward to the coming of the bazaar.Unfortunately, time and money are issues.At the end of the story, the boy has an epiphany and realizes he is only a pitiful creature.

Contemptuous attitude toward Dubliners

“The other houses of the street, conscious of decent lives within them, gazed at one another with brown imperturbable faces.”

  • The boy's outlook is severely limited.

  • He is ignorant and therefore innocent.

  • Lonely, imaginative, and isolated, he lacks the understanding necessary for evaluation and perspective.

  • Joyce uses no descriptive language to express the boy’s adoration of Mangan’s sister.

  • Joyce only narrates some actions of the boy.

  • From these simple words, the reader can understand the boy’s mental state.

  • The reader also understands that the

    writer is sympathetic to this poor boy.

The bazaar is dirty and disappointing.

It is closing and the hall is "in darkness,” which mirrors the boy’s inner feelings.

The story ends with the boy realizing that his love existed only in his mind.

The reality of Araby caused the boy’s spirit to awaken.

The reader can see through his eyes that his spirit awakened, and he clearly saw his foolish behavior.

The boy is filled with sadness and anger b/c he will never be able to satisfy his desires.

The boy’s epiphany reveals the futility of human pursuits.

  • In a sudden flash of insight, the boy sees that his faith and his passion have been blind.

  • In this moment of disillusionment he feels that he himself is at fault for being so bemused by his ideals that he failed completely to see the world as it is.

  • Understandably his disillusionment causes him "anguish and anger."

  • "Araby" is a story of first love.

  • Even more, it is a portrait of a world that defies the ideal and the dream.

  • Setting in this story becomes the true subject

    • atmosphere of spiritual paralysis

    • young boy's idealistic dreams are no match

  • The boy discovers the discrepancy between the real and the ideal in life.

  • Realizing this, the boy takes his first step into adulthood.

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